This won’t be a particularly long post and over the next couple of days I will be going through photos from the sign ceremony to post but today my heart was happy and full of joy.
I love this site, and I love the history it represents, and today I felt hopeful. Today I felt the old souls were pleased… and I could also feel more recent souls who loved Ebenezer whom I knew, Ann Christie and Al Terrell were smiling.
Also something unexpected happened. Today I got a thank you for my contributions to Ebenezer. That is a place that is so special to me, and the thank you was heartfelt. It came from Pastor April Martin and Bertha Jackmon. Coming from them that really meant something special to me. No one really has ever publicly recognized my efforts, and it’s one of those things where no brass band was ever needed, but a simple thank you today meant the world.
My relationship with the East Whiteland Historic Commission doesn’t really exist. I genuinely like a couple of the members and a few members past and present have always been truly really nice to me, and I enjoy speaking with them and knowing them a little bit, BUT I know most of those people do not like me, and a few do not go out of their way to make me feel welcome. And part of the things that have upset me about Ebenezer was trying to talk to them over the years. None of them are bad people, but they are quite cliquish, and not necessarily welcoming to someone like me, or anyone who isn’t their normal person.
Part of what I realized today is I don’t need their approval or permission to love local history. They honestly did a really nice job with the ceremony. Ebenezer’s graveyard is nicely cleaned up. A bunch of stones have fallen over but it’s partially the site itself, and there are new homes being dug around it. The plan is to restore the stones and cap the church ruin which is perfect.
There is a brand new website and fundraising will need to be done for the future and if there are folks who can set up a non profit to help Ebenezer live long into the future visit https://www.historicebenezerbactonhill.org/
It was really nice to visit Hiram and Joshua today too.
Many thanks to Chair of the East Whiteland Supervisors Scott Lambert and Manager Steve Brown for their support of preserving this historic site and for arranging all sorts of things today and East Whiteland PD for making a sometimes busy road behave today.
Again, I will post photos over the next few days. In the future I would like to plant daffodils and snowdrops by the grave stones after they are reset.
I am not trying to be sour grapes here, but when you read this press release disguised as an article embedded below makes you feel like a couple of recent people did everything with regard to the ruin of Ebenezer with no help from anyone else ever. The truth is, there have been a lot of people involved, who should be remembered and thanked.
It’s like a very large village has loved this site and helped and tried to help over the years.
Those of you who know me know that I have worked on this personally for years. I have made publicly available all the information I found and shared loads of photos.
I do not do things like this for atta girls or accolades, but people could say thank you once in a while.
And folks could also say thank you to the families of the late Al Terrell and late Ann Christie as well. And former scout Luke Phayre and his mother, historian Catherine Quillman, Tim Caban former chair of East Whiteland Historic Commission, Theresa Schatz and Susan Evans -former member of East Whiteland Historic Commission, and even Dr. Bill Watson from Immaculata who is always so patient and helpful when you have any questions. There are also all the people who once lived in the area who contributed to the oral histories I posted up and gave me photos to use. Like the artist Claude Bernardin.
Or how about Chester County resident and retired Air Force Colonel Howard Crawford West Chester Veterans Council and commander of the American Legion Post 134 who was instrumental in our Veterans Day ceremony in 2016 on the site? Or Doug Buettner and others over the years who helped clean up the site? Or how about those wonderful East Whiteland police officers who showed up in 2016 to help direct traffic during the Veterans Day ceremony and became part of the honor guard?
Ebenezer is very special to me, even if I am a middle-aged white woman with no relatives in the cemetery.
I am so happy that historical marker is going up here and that there is now a small chance and hope for preservation in the future that lasts. I know that the ruin is too far gone to do anything but stabilize because a few years ago I was the one along with my husband, who had a structural engineer who dealt with historic properties look at it and give a report.
I will attend this ceremony, and I will have a happy heart and a smile on my face, as I am grateful that this is getting some more recognition. But I just want people out there to recognize that there are a lot of people who have cared about this site over the years and helped to the best of their ability.
To get to this point, it’s not just because of recent events, there are years of things behind this and lots of people who cared. Other friends like Christine, Tia, Dana and Keica.
And when I first moved here, East Whiteland Township didn’t truly give a crap about the site. East Whiteland beyond some of the member of the historic commission started to give a damn when Scott Lambert became supervisor. As a matter of fact, when we did the Veterans Day ceremony in 2016, not one supervisor showed up. I remember at the time those of us who worked on that couldn’t believe that. We kept wondering what would it have taken for any of the three supervisors or manager to have shown up even for a few minutes?
I realize I’m like the inconvenient guest at a dinner party because you never know what’s going to come out of my mouth, but I think it’s important to recognize here that a lot of people, not just me, have contributed to saving and trying to save Ebenezer.
If you go to visit this site, I hope you feel all the happy souls like we do when we’re on the site. If you go tomorrow, that is when the marker is being unveiled at 1:30 PM on Bacton Hill Road in East Whiteland.
Once upon a time there was a neglected farmhouse on Dorlan Mill Road. Above is a photo I took in 2020. I wrote about it then too.
Today was the last day standing in Chester County for this once beautiful farmhouse. Another historic structure bites the dust and this farmhouse had a slow decline and was it initially demolition by neglect?
You have to wonder why so many of these beautiful old houses have to go bye bye around here? What ugliness will replace this?
I had someone reach out to me very recently, who was a descendent of the Newlin family who once lived at Ashbridge house on Indian Run Farm in Exton/West Whiteland. His name is Nick Schade and he has shared some photos that I will share at the bottom of what this used to be but now a few words about what it has become.
This was one of the broken down old beautiful Chester County farm houses I have been obsessed with over the past few years. This was the one that when you went into Main Street, looked like it was shrink wrapped in plastic so it could be shipped somewhere like a package I don’t know how else to describe it. I have been writing about this place for a few years, the last time in 2020.
I will be completely honest, and I never thought that this would ever be restored. But it has been. This next photo is another one from Bozzuto who was the developer.
Now I am not going to be a hypocrite, and change my tune and say I love the development around the farmhouse, because I most assuredly do not. First of all, I think there are too many apartment complexes being built out here and we don’t want to be at King of Prussia in Chester County. But it sure seems like that is the direction that everything is going, isn’t it? But I will say that I am honestly grateful that the rehab actually occurred.
It is so important for municipalities to see that adaptive reuse of old structures can occur. Like what finally happened here would be ideal for the Lloyd Farm House in Caln. Or the 18th century farmhouse on the property of the boat dealership that was Clews and Strawbridge in Frazer. Or what about the old farmhouse in Exton – you know 105 S. Whitford Road in Exton? Was part of Oaklands Estate originally and a familial/childhood home of a now retired and popular former Chester County State Representative?
I am also going to say that in spite of the insane amount of development in West Whiteland, it is also a municipality that has some mighty fine adaptive reuse and restoration of historic structures if they survive.
Back to Ashbridge House/Indian Run Farm. So the farmhouse is part of the development, and the old barn is World of Beer. The photos you will be seeing are from the Newlin family.
I am always grateful when these family members send me photos of these places I write about. Because when I see them as they were in my minds eye, and I imagine, it’s always so wonderful when I see actual photos if they exist to see that I wasn’t wrong in my imagining. It’s also cool since a lot of these families don’t have a lot of descendants left, or they don’t have descendants that know of once came from this area and lived in these great places.
The photos I am about to post start in the late 19th century and run through to the 1970s.
Thank you so much Nick for the photos and the prompt to post an update.
This morning some man contacts my blog. Wants me to sign a boilerplate- from -the -internet licensing agreement so he can use one of my La Ronda photos or more in his “fashion ”
Please note, there was no mention of compensation to me for my images. He just wanted me to let him use them. Uhh no, you are kind of a random schmatta salesman.
Oh, and he sends me his Instagram page of his “fashion.” I wouldn’t call it fashion.
Yes, I know I’ll took a lot of photos of La Ronda before she came down in 2009. But I am also not a charity. And that’s kind of insulting. Someone wants to use my photos so they can make money and I’m just supposed to say “OK here you go, have fun!”
Funny thing about his Instagram page https://instagram.com/new_elixir – when it was first in the comment you could see it, but as soon as I followed it after saying no? Page disappeared. Poof! Like magic!
If you ever see La Ronda photos show up being advertised on Instagram on T-shirts please let me know.
La Ronda was something quite emotional for me. I photographed the Addison Mizner mansion’s last few months of life through her gates. With my camera, I recorded the entirety of her demolition. So this schmatta scammer gives me the excuse to talk about La Ronda one more time as a PRIME example of WHY we need historic preservation and WHY what we have in Pennsylvania does not work.
Here is the article my friend Bonnie Cook wrote in 2009 that was one of the last about this amazing castle, because really, La Ronda was like a castle.
La Ronda, the grand Gothic castle that presided over a Bryn Mawr neighborhood for eight decades, is all but gone.
Five minutes after a township demolition permit allowed work to start yesterday morning, the long arm of a yellow excavator took the first bite of the mansion’s facade, sending shards of glass, wood, and stucco crashing to the ground.
The machine’s metal jaws chewed through walls and pieces of the Spanish-style roof. By day’s end, three-quarters of the building was rubble. All that was left of the 51-room house were the three-story tower and a piece of a library.
The demolition contractor said it would be weeks before all remnants of the building were removed. “As you can see, it moves fast,” said Keith Brubacher, who owns Brubacher Excavating Inc.
The building’s fate attracted the attention of preservationists and others who fought the planned demolition of the house designed by Addison Mizner at 1030 Mount Pleasant Rd.
Throughout the day, a stream of onlookers drove or walked by La Ronda – including Gladwyne Elementary School children who shouted “Save La Ronda” out the window of their yellow bus. At dusk, vehicles slowed as occupants snapped photos….The mansion was purchased in March for $6 million by Joseph and Sharon Kestenbaum of Penn Valley behind a pair of corporate identities. Plans were filed with the township to tear it down and replace it with a new house.
Ross Mitchell, vice president of the Lower Merion Township Historical Society, said yesterday he was shocked that a deal could not be struck to save the mansion. “He could have built his house anywhere,” Mitchell said.
Kestenbaum’s spokesman, Jeff Jubelirer, responded, “Mr. Mitchell could have purchased the home or the property and done whatever he wanted. He had from March till Sept. 18 to make an offer and raise the money.
“He didn’t execute, so Mr. Kestenbaum decided to do what he wanted to do in building his family’s home.”… The mechanical excavator, moving on treads like those of a bulldozer, used the rubble to build a platform from which to attack the next wall or roof.
Several times the operator punctured the mansion’s supports with a metal I-beam taken from the house, prompting preservationist Lori Salganicoff to comment: “Do you see what they’re doing?
“They’re using a piece of the building to destroy itself. This is surreal.”
Remember the La Rondas of this world. And a house doesn’t have to be so grand to be worth saving. And we need state elected officials who give a damn about things like this. I was thinking about that yesterday as the Muppet from Radnor, former Radnor Commissioner Lisa Borowski posed for photos in Harrisburg with her bangs having returned (always a thing when she was a Radnor commissioner – you couldn’t see her face, just her bangs like she was a Muppet) in the PA House Chamber when she located her seat. So now that these folks are elected, will they do things that matter like update the Municipalities Planning Code to save communities from excessive development and get better and meaningful historic preservation and land preservation in place?
So this is Chester county. Do we want to preserve her or not? Because we’re running out of time if we do wish to preserve her. If we do wish to preserve her history, her great open spaces (what’s left of them), her farms (what’s left of them) , her architecture (what hasn’t been replaced by endless fields of McBoxes.)
This isn’t a Republican or Democrat thing, this is the people coming together and working to save Chester County kind of thing.
People drive me crazy when they say “Oh but if you only elect this Republican or this Democrat that change will happen.” No it won’t. When did all of you get so dumb about community activism?
All of these politicians bring YOU to them. That’s not the way you do it. The way you do it is every time you have an election, the politicians take on your issues as their issues. Because if you just continue out there to take their issues on as your issues, you will always end up the loser.
No, often it is not nice. It’s hard. It’s a slog. You have all sorts of people screaming and yelling at you and calling you names. You know, kind of like my average day being a blogger. But you have to work if you really want to save something. You can’t just say oh let’s put up a Facebook page and save something. You actually have to do the work behind it. Look at Crebilly. Those folks did not give up. And they did it.
There have been countless groups who have put up private groups and Facebook pages proclaiming their issue. But the thing is they never really get off the social media pages, do they? They don’t go to meetings. They don’t take meetings with elected officials of all levels. It’s like they expect the world to come to them. I have to bite my tongue and not say how’s that working out for all of you?
If they do have loosely held “groups“, often these days you find different members of sad aforementioned “groups” are going in different directions with slightly different objectives that are often counterproductive. It doesn’t work because you all need to come together.
It doesn’t matter what political party you belong to when you’re working for a common goal and a greater good, you leave that bickering at the door. You need to forget the whole thing about oh if we just do this one little thing for this politician then they’ll help us. No they won’t. The goal of them and their campaigns is to make all of you come around to see their perspective. As we learned years ago fighting eminent domain mean in Ardmore, you have to flip that perspective.
And if the politicians make hollow promises, then you vote them out and you start all over again. And you keep repeating the process till you have government that you can work with, that works for the people.
And I have to say after doing the whole thing in Ardmore, also gave me some of the most amazing friends as an adult. I remember the first event I attended that the Save Ardmore Coalition did years ago. I entered a room a stranger and left with new friends, Friends I still have almost 20 years later. I did not start at the very, very beginning. I heard what they had to say, and I knew I wanted to be part of it. Oh and one election cycle we flipped half of the Board of Commissioners in Lower Merion Township to politicians of BOTH political parties who made our issue theirs. And they kept their word and ended eminent domain for good a few months later. As opposed to that eminent domain circus in East Goshen recently , it didn’t take a year to unwind. That my friends was BS, just like the self-aggrandizing Libertarian “award” , “honor” or whatever was bestowed upon supervisors or one supervisor in general, like the day before their spouse became the head of the Chester County Libertarian Party. That was no better than a publicity stunt. And it made me very sad.
So now that the elections are over, it’s time for communities across Chester County to come together to save what’s left of their character. Yesterday because we were going to visit friends further out in the county from us, we had this gorgeous drive back and forth. It made me think. It made me appreciate all over again the beauty of where we call home.
This also means that we have to start getting busy with our state elected officials, the lame ducks and the ones poised to take office in January. They need to start helping us preserve where we call home. And that means changing certain laws so that is possible.
One big thing requiring change is the Municipalities Planning Code. It hasn’t been comprehensively updated seriously since like 1969. And the last time it was comprehensively updated, do you know what one of the developments was that happened as a result of changes? Chesterbrook. We need fewer developments and that means we have to lobby for these people to get off the rear ends and enact an act of the state constitution. We need to redefine suburb and exurb. We need more meaningful historic preservation and land preservation with built-in components to make it more attractive so that more people are interested in doing it.
This isn’t my job to do this. I am a curtain raiser, and I am once again drawing attention to this very important issue. We live in a beautiful place that is not that far off of being completely ruined forever. And those of us who come from the Main Line can tell you all about that because once upon a time the Main Line was truly beautiful and somewhat magical with amazing homes and properties. Now it’s just a suburb with too many people with misplaced senses of entitlement.
And that suburban sprawl continues to move west, or should I say march west because it’s not flowing, it’s attacking. Every time you turn around there’s another development planned. Or land getting gobbled up now by things like data centers and worse which we don’t know enough about here in this area, but in other areas of the country they’re fighting tooth and nail to get these things out of their communities.
We also don’t have to scream to be heard. When we scream we’re no better than those people that annoy the crap out of us at every school board meeting because they are undoubtedly uncomfortable with their own sexuality, so everything they perceive as different, is bad.
Anyway, it’s not just t-shirts and post cards and endless lawn signs that are going to bring us change. It’s involvement in our communities. And it’s consistent involvement, not involvement when the horses are out of the proverbial barn and nothing can be done.
Since the onset of Covid we have the ability in a lot of places for hybrid meetings. They are both virtual and in person. And most meetings are recorded now, and if you are in a municipality that does not record their meetings, start there. You have a right to have your meetings recorded, and/or you have the right to record the meetings in their entirety and broadcast them on YouTube or Facebook live or whatever.
I think the beauty and character and history of this county are worth preserving. That’s all I have to say. But people have to be willing to get involved and stay involved.
I am a realist. Not every old house can be saved, not every old farm can be saved. But I think as an extended group of communities, we can ask better of our elected officials all the way to Washington DC when it comes to this. But we all have to put the political BS aside and try.
Odessa, Delaware is one of my favorite places. It is literally a jewel of a historic town, almost frozen in time.
Located in New Castle County, Delaware, Odessa was founded in the 18th century as Cantwell’s Bridge, her name was changed in the 19th century after the Ukrainian port city of the same name.
I will be posting a separate post of just photos I took today in Odessa, but would also interested me separately is a study in contrasts.
When you’re coming into historic Odessa, on the edge of the town, there is literally this house that has been falling apart for years. It is a clear example of demolition by neglect or abandonment, take your pick. We see examples of this in Chester County all the time. I realized today that the house that used to be right on the corner of Boot Road and Greenhill across from Hershey’s Mill and the fire house is so overgrown I can’t wonder if it has met or is meeting a similar fate? The deterioration of this old house reminds me a lot of the deterioration of the historic farm house in Malvern along route 30 that is part of the Clews and Strawbridge boat property in East Whiteland.
But then as you get into town and around the corner from Cantwell’s historic Tavern is a house that obviously suffered a fire that is being rebuilt. So that is your contrast. You have letting a historic structure rot versus someone painstakingly rebuilding a structure after a devastating loss.
This post is not a dig at Odessa, Delaware because the historic preservation is remarkable. It’s just sort of food for thought of the whole historic preservation of it all. The next post shows how pretty Odessa is.
Two years ago I wrote about the old Hershey’s Mill starting to get a rehab facelift. Last November I posted photos from the rehab in progress. Well today we drove by on our way home, (and sorry I didn’t get the best photos but I got a couple of photos) and I am so happy to see that beautiful old structure with new life.
The new owners have taken great care with her restoration and she looks glorious! I really hope East Goshen historical commission gives them some kind of an award, they deserve it!
I hope the family will be really happy there and now let’s hope East Goshen Township gets a move on with making a park or whatever they are doing with what was the old pond and other things next-door. Because I have to tell you if I had spent all that money on that rehab of that beautiful old structure, it’s a little jarring to look at the undoneness of next door which is the township’s responsibility.
And speaking of East Goshen have they taken eminent domain off of the table for the Hicks Farm? I’m still wondering how I can take so long to unravel an eminent domain taking.
Anyway, bravo to the restoration minded owners of the old Hershey’s Mill. In an age where everyone tears down rather than restores, this is the most wondrous site!
Today I went back to Historic Yellow Springs. First up was the herb sale in the big field held by the Philadelphia Unit of the Herb Society of America.
The herb sale had not been held since before COVID19 invaded our lives. The sale was a rousing success and they basically had sold out but just a little after 11 AM! The tables were picked clean like locusts had descended upon the field!
After putting my plants in the car, I went onto the Yellow Springs Art Show. I had also not been there since before COVID19. The show was glorious, but some of the artists’ pricing were eyebrow raising.
One of the things I noticed the most was how alive the village was today. That doesn’t happen often enough. The Historic Yellow Springs Executive Director did not seem to be around and I was there for a few hours. I do not wish to be critical of the woman, but today was the kind of day that you get opportune moments. You never know where your next donation is going to come from and two seconds of conversation with visitors to the village means people come back to the village. I also know of people who have wanted to volunteer that somehow are never chosen to volunteer. And I’m not referring to myself because they don’t want a mouthy blogger volunteering there, and I know that.
For this amazing and living and breathing piece of history to remain viable into the future they have to be less insular. Their volunteers are amazing and helpful and nice, but the people that actually run the show (board and others) need to be more visible.
While I was walking the village today I thought of an event that Meg Veno does at Life’s Patina. As part of Life’s Patina’s holiday events she does a German Market. It’s hugely popular as most German Markets during the holidays are. So I got to thinking since Life’s Patina/Meg Veno has breathed new life into the Jenny Lind House, and is nearing completion of an extensive and expensive restoration (and boy do I hope West Pikeland and Historic Yellow Springs are appreciative, don’t you?), why not pick you one of THE most creative brains in all of Chester County and take full advantage of the fabulousness coming to an amazing historic village?
What am I talking about? It’s simple: when I was walking the village today and I did it a couple of times first with plants and then going to the art show and buying some art it occurred to me that this life that was in the village today is so important for her survival. And I thought as I stood in front of the Jenny Lind house about how much I enjoy what Meg does every holiday season. And I thought that Yellow Springs should really pick her brain about doing a German Christmas village THERE.
Historic Yellow Springs is extra lovely on the outside during the holidays, so why not capitalize on new blood and fresh energy? Today in my mind’s eye I could see a German Christmas village up and down Yellow Springs Village. Christmas carolers and musicians strolling back-and-forth, a cart selling warm chestnuts and brown paper sacks, a vendor selling gingerbread fresh from the oven, and more. Couldn’t you just see someone with a beautiful little booth outside selling hand-painted German Christmas ornaments and nutcrackers ? It would literally be SO perfect!
I mean I don’t know why their Special Events Director, Executive Director, and board haven’t thought of any of these things. I know they don’t want the village to look like Disneyland, but I’m talking about things that are old-fashioned, historically appropriate,wholesome,pretty, and fun.
Other ideas? Bring back an updated version of the fall antiques show. There are enough dealers and high-end crafts people in Chester County that do such fine work including right in the studios of Yellow Springs that you could do this no problem. Why not make it a version of not what it was, but more of a blend of high-end crafts and art as well as antiques and collectibles?
Other things would be more children’s events like hayrides through the fall and pumpkin carving. Maybe a Halloween parade with old-fashioned Halloween games for kids?
There are more than enough garden clubs in Chester County so why not ask them to do their plant sales all on one weekend in the spring or early summer in the village? Or invite garden groups to do plant swaps in the village?
The possibilities are endless for this beautiful piece of Chester County history. But they need to extend themselves so people know they’re there a little more.
And all of these events should have membership tables with people asking are you a member of Historic Yellow Springs? Would you like to be a member of Historic Yellow Springs?
Today I was also treated to the clop clop of horses hooves as riders rode through the village. There is just something so nice about that sound.
Just my thoughts. If you can catch the art show before it closes at the end of this weekend, I highly recommend it.
That is a photo of a history book about Lower Merion Township from 1988. It was this great book that was privately printed that only had 1000 copies ever printed on the original publication, and this is the first time I’ve ever seen this book out there for sale other than on eBay. I bought it for $10 at an estate sale.
Inside the book was a treasure trove of articles mostly about things in Lower Merion Township but one about Radnor Township as well. The articles were from The Philadelphia Inquirer and the Main Line Times when it was still advertised as an independent newspaper.
I have only just started to read the book but I am sharing screenshots with all of you fellow history buffs that I hope you will find of interest. One thing I loved in particular is a screenshot about things in Gladwyne. it was obviously an old map and it was lent to the folks who put this book out by the father of a childhood friend.
There is so much about the history of the Main Line and Chester County the disappears year-by-year. This is why I love when I can get my hands on one of these really good local history books. I don’t know who owned this particular copy of this book but it’s a wonderful book, and the articles are fabulous.